For everyone without Facebook I’m sorry. Here are the first posts, some photos and some updates.
After day six I had walked about 100 of the 500 miles
May 26 – 6 miles. Slept school.
M27 – 16 miles. Slept forest.
M28 – 23 miles. Slept varanda.
M29 – 3 miles. Slept hostel
M30 – 8 miles. Slept concrete pipes
M31 – 16 miles. Hotel camping
June 1 – 27 miles. Slept hotel
J2 – 0 miles. Friends bed
J3 – 0 miles. Free hostel
The first day and a half have been…an adventure no doubt. I over walked yesterday evening and the sun started to go down. I started to panic and my last hope to pitch my hammock with light was a building at the top of a hill with lampposts around it. Pitching a hammock is a pain, you need strong supports about ten feet apart. In the end there was nothing so I slept in some sort of storage place (pictured). It was warm which was a god send. Staying warm at night without a sleeping bag is my second biggest worry behind getting water.
I woke up at 5am to Lake Skadar blanketed in clouds.
Since I left Virpazar yesterday afternoon I have seen no shops. Each name on the map, I assumed would at least have a shop but some only had a single house.
I have been topping up my water at the (thank god) regular wells. They are sometimes more regular than the houses.
I am now at the first proper town is seen since leaving, called Ostros. There is a bar, restaurant, and shop, so I bought another days worth of food in case I have to wait a long time again for shops.
My feet are hurting and blisters are forming on my heels. I had planned to stop near here so I think I’ll spend the afternoon at this cafe before finding a place for the hammock. I also realised having a beer doesn’t break the rules. Having many beers doesn’t either
I have a confession to make. I got a hostel tonight. I broke the rules and felt genuinely bad until it got the trip back on track more than I could have imagined.
Firstly the reason for getting the hostel. Yesterday I had to walk for 23 miles which is way too far for a day. I wasn’t able to pitch my hammock till 21:30 and then by midnight it was too cold to sleep, I had to move from the hammock to the concrete floor and got barely any sleep. At 5:30 this morning I walked to the city I am at now. There was nowhere to sleep so I had to sit in a restaurant from about 7am trying to keep my eyes open with espressos. After midday I found a park to try to nap and a man woke me up. He tried to get me to stay at his house and me in my frazzled, paranoid, unslept self thought he wanted to try to kill me (yes, I had the film ‘the hostel’ going round in my mind. I couldn’t shake it) There was no way I could sleep rough in this city as there is a fair amount of poverty and people have warned me it’s not so safe at night. My only option was a lake which was 1.5 hours walk away and I couldn’t handle the thought of going there knowing I may not even sleep well after arriving.
So I booked a hostel. I have now managed to eat properly finally. I have barely eaten since starting, for some reason loosing my appetite. On my 23 mile day yesterday for example I had 3 biscuits and some milk for breakfast, an orange at 8am, an apple and coffee at 11am, a green pepper, bit of dry bread, and a vitamin pill at lunch, and some nuts at about 2pm. After my walk I just couldn’t eat.
So there are the reasons. The reason it has turned out to be massively beneficial are, as I just said, I’ve been able to eat something substantial finally. I poured oil all over my drying bread and ate it till I felt sick.
Secondly the lady from the hostel let me buy her old map, which is 100 times better than my old one. I hadn’t thought to get a new one till I got here, and it happened they had a spare. Loads of roads were missing off my old one, it didn’t have a scale, or North, and it was causing me added unnecessary stress and made it difficult to plan.
Finally, the lady gave me some good words about Albanians. All I have heard is negativity from people about Albanians and since being here my experience had been mixed. People stare, and because of the negative words I had heard before arriving, I took that as an unwelcoming gesture, but really the staring is just intrigue. This lady is a proper hippy mum and I was saying to a friend online that she had just given me a great mental hug, telling me it was gonna be ok. About a minute later I thanked her for her words and she gave me an actual hug. Having had a few hours sleep this afternoon, and some food, I am ready to conquer Albania. And I am going to try and make up for the rule break by hitting some serious miles. New shoes, new map, new blanket, new sense of calm. At first I really thought the hostel was a big fat fail but I think from what Has happened that it was 100% necessary.
It’s become apparent that the ‘no paying for accommodation’ element of the challenge is not achievable.
I guess it’s through lack of planning but even if I had planned this I couldn’t have known where to sleep rough. For example last night. I had looked for a place for over two hours. Once going under a bridge to try and set up my tarpaulin over some big retaining wall under the motorway, only to find out the whole thing was covered in smashed bottles. After another hours walk I got to a place that was very much out of town. There were various unoccupied buildings but many were squatted, some were too close to other residences, and a random hut I found near a motorway bridge which looked ok had been used by someone as a toilet. All this topped off by the fact, that when I gave up on this area and decided just to carry on walking in to the evening, I realised I had hit a motorway and had no choice but to turn back for a mile to avoid it. Thus backtracking to places I already knew were unsleepable.
The sleeping rough for two months element is a challenge in itself and knowing that at the end of every day I could have to extend my walk by hours just to find a safe place to sleep is a bit much, especially now as my pace is slowing as my blisters get more painful and the heat of the day is having a bigger impact daily.
So last night I stayed at a hotel that offered camping. And I’m set up under my tarpaulin on some grass (it was still cold and windy and I woke up frequently in the night, but the new blanket is a winner)
I don’t want to pay for accommodation every night by any means, but I also don’t want to have a feeling of failure every time I have no other choice. So maybe the rule is now ‘no paying for accommodation unless…there’s no other choice and you’ve looked for at least an hour…’
The rest of the challenge is 100% achievable and I guess it’s only through doing it that I was ever going to know for sure. Everyone gives me water when I ask, the food budget is basic but liveable, and I can do the miles. So unless I get run over I’m going to do this, just not sleeping rough every night..
Thank you to everyone for the support, donations and messages. They are what gets me on my feet every day
Today I walked 27 miles. The last teo miles I had to take a taxi as I knew it would take another hour to get to the centre.
I had to stop three times in the last 3 miles. I was limping from mile 19. I stopped for a beer at mile 27 and when I tried to do that last two miles I physically couldn’t.
I looked at my hands near the end and the end of my fingers had gone purple?!?
Now for a two day rest. And a couple more beers